A cancer survivor is an individual who is living with or beyond cancer from the moment of diagnosis onward. The term survivor also is used to refer to the friends and family members of people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Survivors must cope with the physical, psychological, spiritual and financial effects of cancer.
Many survivors receive intensive assistance and communication from their healthcare team within a medical system of care. After treatment, they go back to their everyday lives with little guidance for managing the medical or quality-of-life issues that may arise. Therefore, it is important that survivors receive appropriate social support in order to maintain their expected quality of life. Quality of life includes spiritual, psychological, emotional, financial and physical well-being. It is influenced by age, sex, sexual orientation, urban/rural location, socioeconomic status, level of education, immigration status, culture and access to health care.
Many studies have shown that social support improves a person’s ability to cope with the stresses associated with cancer and to reduce the negative symptoms that result from cancer. Negative symptoms may include pain, depression and anxiety. It is also important that cancer survivors feel empowered to influence their own behavior following treatment through new knowledge, skills, attitudes and self-awareness. Survivors who experience this sense of control over their health may have better health outcomes following a cancer diagnosis.
The Comprehensive Cancer Program supports survivorship initiatives that seek to help survivors and their caregivers cope with a cancer diagnosis (including the long-term effects of treatment) and encourage healthy behaviors among cancer survivors.
For more information about cancer survivorship issues, click here »